by Professor Lynn Basford
Laughter is the best medicine
There is no doubt that laughter is the best medicine. Instinctively we know this, but science has repeatedly demonstrated the power of healing through laughter. You might think going for an elective Hysterectomy, or other surgery, is no laughing matter? But just stop and think about it. What makes you feel good, laughing or being down right miserable?
Medical opinion suggests that laughter yoga/meditation makes you less apprehensive and enables you to bring a positive approach towards your particular circumstance.
Remember that although you may have a physical gynaecological issue to deal with, there is at least 50% psychological attachment to your current situation. Not only will you be stressed about the imminent surgery, but your situation post operatively, your family needs, your job and the list goes on.
Reversing your attitude through laughter (even if false) has shown to reverse the chemicals that are released in the body when stressed to instead release those that have a positive beneficial effect.
Laughter is a kind of cocktail that shakes all the cells in your body to be happy. In addition, the physical act of laughing increases oxygen supply to your cells thereby assisting healing at the cellular level.
Laughter reminder: Look at these adorable laughing quadruplets!
Quite simply, laughter yoga/mediation offers a way in which you can reverse your bodies negative response to stress to one that promotes healing, reduces pre and post operative depression and lifts the mood of those around you.
Go on try it, when you laugh, the world and your family and friends laugh with you!
If you plough through all the research papers produced by scientists, there are some common features that are attributed to Laughter Yoga/ Meditation. Chiefly, these are:
- Increases oxygen to the cells;
- Stimulates your immune system,
- Decreases your stress hormones,
- Releases serotonin that acts as a natural anti-depressant, and endorphins – natural painkillers, (means you will need less pain killers post operatively).
- Increases circulation; not only taking nutrients to the cells, but removing toxic waste build up.
- Exercises abdominal muscles (great workout prior to surgery).
- Through relaxing stress, it naturally reduces your blood pressure,
- It increases flexibility in your joints. Doing the splits NO! but becoming flexible YES!
OK got the message – laughter is good for you. But how do I go about laughing as a form of meditation?
Firstly, you need to understand that laughter meditation can be done in groups or alone in your own home. What is different is that it is not a spontaneous activity, but something you are focused and conscious about.
If you want to do it as a group activity, find a local yoga laughing meditation practice / or better still your local hospital, or simply follow the model below.
- First wear comfortable clothing and as always find a place that you will be undisturbed, warm and comfortable. If you have a CD, laptop, iPod etc have previously found a piece of music that makes you feel happy. I like the Jungle book one, or Bob Marley’s, “Be Happy, Don’t Worry”! I also like to hear little tiny baby’s gurgling. Im sure you would find your own.
- Once you have one you like, play it before you do the following process. already you will be smiling. If you have a favourite comedian play a recording/TV show of his/hers. The old ones still have some innocent magic about them.
- Stand tall, (if you cant stand it can be done whilst sitting), and have room to fling your arms around, i.e. bending forward; stretching from side to side, or backwards.
- Take a big deep breath in, force out a laughter ( HA HA HA< HO HO HO) whilst you exhale. You might want to bend forward whilst doing this. continuing laughing with exhalation until you are doing it without forcing a smile. Go on just laugh at yourself. No one is watching! If they are enlist them to join in the fun. They will benefit from it too.
- After a while, ( 5-10 mins) sit down, close your eyes and still your mind. Let all these pleasant thoughts fill your mind. feel the warmth and pleasantness that bathes every cell of your body. Notice how your mood has lifted, your less anxious, less apprehensive about your forthcoming surgery. see yourself happy in your recovery. keep smiling, always smiling.
- When you feel like coming back to the present moment, slowly open your eyes and go about your day as normal, but keep smiling.
Watch a laughter yoga class in action:
Keep that positive feeling going and once in hospital, your happiness will permeate the ward you are in! Other patients and staff will share in your laughter and your recovery will be swifter during your post operative phase.
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